Monday, July 09, 2007

Watchful Eyes

This is Slim, my cherry tomato guardian. Can you see him? He's right in the center of the photo. I keep a cherry tomato plant on the patio right outside our little apartment and I came out one morning to see evidence of a tomato hormworm. Horrors!! I hate those things. It had eaten a couple of the ends off 2 limbs and pooped everywhere but as I scoured the plant from top to bottom, I couldn't find the worm anywhere. Then I saw Slim here, perched right next to one of the areas (and poop) where it seemed the nasty caterpillar had last been. I guess Slim had a good meal too. Anyway, he's been hanging around on the plant for the last couple of weeks so I try to make him feel welcome. Unfortunately, praying mantis will also eat beneficial bugs like honey bees but if he will eat tomato hornworms then he is fine in my book.

On the previous post I mentioned VOCs and Pablo asked what that was so I thought I'd provide a little information to all on that. This is a very simple definition I found.
VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are the fumes that you smell while you paint, and sometimes several days after. A VOC is an organic chemical that becomes a breathable gas at room temperature. Some examples are benzene, ethylene glycol, vinyl chloride and mercury.
VOCs in paint usually come from additives to the paint, such as fungicides, biocides, color, and spread ability agents. High levels of VOCs in paints can cause headaches, allergic reactions, and health problems in the very old, very young and in those with chronic illnesses.
Concerns about air pollution and hazardous waste have greatly reduced the use of oil-based paints which can release high amounts of VOCs and contain toxic solvents. Alkyd-based paints and latex paints are much safer, but some still have high levels of VOCs.

One of the things I am trying to accomplish with this house is to build an environment using all natural materials wherever possible. You know, untreated wood, stone, natural fabrics etc. I'm trying to severely limit the amount of plastic which will be in the house, which are another source of VOCs and other nasty things. Besides that, it has no soul. Carpet, plywood and some paints also emit formaldehyde, a carcinogen, so no carpet anywhere in the house. Now, I have used plywood but as of now there are just no other sources available in this area for an alternative product.
Most of my family laughs at me for being concerned about such things and actually taking these steps but just by coincidence, I'm the only one who does not take any prescription medications whatsoever, is not overweight, can work the hell out of most anybody and am often told that I look younger than I am..... if they don't see my gray hair! And I have a happy personality (most of the time.... hush Allen!) Now, whether this is due to just eating healthy and staying active or to avoiding these products I mentioned also, I don't know but, you know, it doesn't hurt. To me, if you are surrounded be natural, inviting furnishings you just feel better.
I am continuing to work on the ceiling finish and priming walls today. I will try to have more photos soon. I am trying to make good use of my time off but I always feel like I'm not doing enough. Allen has been working his butt off under the house leveling out the dirt so that we can pour a slab under there for my studio. I'll get photos of that too.


pablo said...

As far as I am concerned, blogging is a productive use of time.

edifice rex said...

I think so too, Pablo. If I could just make some money at it though.